Warm Audio WA-251 tube mic: $10,000 quality for under $1,000?
Warm Audio is among the leading brands making affordable replicas of rare and expensive vintage gear. This is one of the brands to go to for authentic sound on a reasonable budget. WA has now unveiled a new mic, a straight-up replica of the Telefunken ELA M 251 whose official reissue costs no less than USD 9500. Except this model costs USD 799. Can Warm Audio deliver similar quality at a tenth of the price?
The people at Warm Audio are up for the challenge, as always. To recremake the 251 in all its glory, Warm Audio chose an all-brass, edge-terminated capsule with no teflon parts and 24k gold sputtered 6 micron diaphragm. Warm Audio says it matches the tonality and frequency response of the original 1970 capsule. The transformer, however, is an American-made CineMag traff which contributes some serious low end.
The WA-251 is a tube microphone, like many vintage classics. It uses a JJ 12AY7 tube made in the Slovak Republic to (re)create the sound aesthetics Warm Audio is going for here. You can always replace it with another if you have no love for it. The capacitors are polysterene-coupling, wima film, and Solen French (on the output). As a final touch, Warm Audio shopped a 7-pin cable from Switzerland’s Gotham Audio – the GAC-7. It’s constructed to increase top end presence and reduce phase shift, apparently.
Shipping in a wood box with an external power supply, shockmount and aforenmentioned cable, the WA-251 looks like excellent value for the USD 800 it costs. I guess getting ten-thousand-dollar sounds on a budget is now a legitimate possibility, which is a wonderful thing. But we’ll be listening out for videos or audio the streets comparing it directly to the original. Should be interesting!
More information, such as the complete spec sheet, can be found at Warm Audio’s website. The microphone will be up for sale in February, right after Winter NAMM.